Thanks to our Timaru District Council those of us left in town over the Easter Break have a great choice of walks to wander along and enjoy with our early autumn weather. According to Council research local residents and visitors have a strong interest in walking and biking and as we know, the benefits to our health and well-being are immeasurable, possibly the perfect antidote to potential overindulgence in the chocolate department this weekend.
It’s a real ‘thumbs up’ for the council that over the last few years they have opened up some fabulous shared walkways for both walking and biking throughout the towns of Timaru, Temuka, Geraldine and Pleasant Point along with a few in rural areas. Check out the TDC website, under Community for details and maps of the tracks, it’s a really comprehensive site and you are bound to find something to suit your time frames. They’ve proven very popular additions to our region, they are suitable for any levels of fitness, bike and pedestrian safe, perfect for family meanderings and are dog friendly.
Some of the ones in Timaru that are well worth doing if you haven’t already are the Otipua Creek walkways. You can start at Centennial Park, near the BMX area and walk along several sections of the track to end up standing on South Beach and gazing out over the vast Pacific Ocean. Along the way you can appreciate the established native plantings lining the route and a few pleasing rural views as well. You’ll have to cross a couple of roads between sections of the track but that’s a small price to pay and the juxtaposition between the peace of the track and the busier road reminds you how nice it is to escape from the everyday street noises sometimes. After you cross Coonoor Rd and enter the track look back to admire the picturesque historic bluestone bridge, it’s beautiful and worth an article of its own….
Enjoy a Happy and relaxing Easter, from the Timaru Civic Trust.
When the noted architectural critic Nikolaus Pevsner visited New Zealand in 1958 he drew a good audience in Christchurch. Pevsner admired the Provincial Council buildings, and went on to say that he’d also found a cathedral as good as anything in the new world. “And” he said “the one in Cathedral Square is not bad either”.
The building that Pevsner put on a pedestal was the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, so badly damaged by the recent Canterbury earthquakes. Well known architect Peter Beaven described it as “the finest classical building in New Zealand without question”.
In Timaru we have a close relative of the Christchurch building, from the same architect F W Petre (pronounced Peter). Legend has it that Petre fell out with the Church over this project since he intended an even larger basilica than the one we see today. But surely he has provided enough – a simple glance and one is transported to Romanesque Europe by the sheer confidence of this structure. The interior is the high point – the richness of the bold volumes all beautifully expressed. Since its construction in 1910 the Basilica of the Sacred Heart has been well cared for by the Church authorities to their great credit.
“Worship” a recent handsome book by Auckland architect and academic Bill McKay devotes 6 full colour pages to the Timaru basilica. McKay refers to Petre’s interest in reinforced concrete buildings at an early stage, pointing out that the limestone and brickwork of the basilica is all supported by a concrete core.
For the Roman Catholic Church Petre produced highly worked buildings in Christchurch, Waimate, Oamaru and Dunedin and is another leading New Zealand architect to have contributed to the Timaru townscape at the peak of his career.
They lend an air of bohemian sophistication to our local environment but have you ever wondered about our beautiful palm trees? We are used to seeing them everywhere, they grow along the paths at the Caroline Bay and feature in peoples gardens throughout our town.
The species originates from The Canary Islands and its correct name is Phoenix Canariensis, the Canary Island Date Palm, they are often referred to as Pineapple palms or Phoenix palms. The palm is easily recognized through its crown of leaves and trunk characteristics. When pruned, the bottom of the crown, also called the nut, appears to have a pineapple shape. It grows as a large solitary palm reaching between 10–20m in height.
I’ve been trying to find out a little about their history in our town.
A helpful email arrived from our museum volunteers and staff detailing work carried out when Caroline Bay was first being developed and landscaped. The article was dated 30/9/1939 and titled ‘Work At Bay.’ The only reference to palms being planted was in the following sentence. ‘ Further along on the north side of the pavilion there are other recessed seats, and hardy palms have been planted on the bank above’. That gives us the year 1939, when they were first recorded as having been planted here aging the biggest ones at around 70-80yrs old.
Recent landscaping on the Bay has seen more planted bordering the newest paths and although there are a few in Oamaru, Timaru is generally considered to be the southern most situation that they will grow successfully in. They are definitely a feature plant and if you are planning to plant one at your place, make sure it has plenty of room to grow in a permanent open position and warn the kids not to play to close by. Local landscapers often get calls to shift them for replanting elsewhere. They can be successfully moved but it is an expensive exercise when they are fully grown.
They are fabulous looking but not without their problems and there are a number of injuries annually that come from the rather nasty spikes on the branches. You might be interested to know that New Zealand's Landcare Research has classified the palm as a 'sleeper weed' - "a plant that spreads slowly and goes unnoticed until it becomes widespread”.
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